General Information: Nelson is a two hour drive from Marlborough, or a short flight from Wellington. It’s a paradise for potters, painters, alternative life-stylers, foodies and wine lovers. Nelson enjoys a lot of sun, has undisturbed golden sand beaches, beautiful scenery, fertile plains and snow capped mountain ranges – almost everything you could want in a wine region.
A significant proportion of the region's economy is devoted to growing, harvesting and eating fresh food and wine. Soil structure tends to clay loams over hard clay subsoil and climatically the region is sheltered from rain by mountains to the west.
Nelson is amongst the coutries smaller wine regions, and you will be able to visit most of its wineries in a single day. Wineries are picturesque and many offer the chance to taste wines the way they should be – with fresh local cuisine. Nelson vineyards concentrate on grape varieties suited to cooler conditions, with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Noir accounting for most of the grapes grown.
Climate:Nelson has one of the best climates of all major New Zealand centres, with an annual average total of over 2400 hours of sunshine.Wine regions are mostly located in free draining alluvial valleys. The alluvial deposits are typically the local sandstone called greywacke, which makes up much of the mountainous spine of New Zealand.
Soil:Within the region, viticulture has been developed primarily on sites with moderate low fertility and a noticeably stony, sandy loam top soil overlying deep layers of free-draining shingle, as found in the viticulturally developed areas of the Wairau and Awatere Valleys. These shallow, fast draining, low fertility soils help to produce a lush, aromatic ripe wine because they reduce the vines vigor. Where a more herbaceous style is desired, sites with greater water retentive soils and moderate fertility are chosen.
Grapes:New Zealand red wines are typically made from a blend of varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and much less often Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec), or Pinot Noir.
In white wines Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc predominate in plantings and production.